I don't recall the first moment when my toddler son started to seem more like a small child than a growing baby. Perhaps it was when he got so confident in his walking abilities that he began venturing into the next room all on his own, with (probably) no clue what he'd be doing when he got there. If a whole house feelings like a suddenly attainable, wide-open world to explore isn't the definitive quality of toddler life, I don't know what is. Or maybe it was when he put two words together ("bubble bath"). Or, it might have been when he spent more than eight seconds looking at the same book, giving me a chance to exhale, check my phone, and glance back at him in awe that he was still "reading." While hanging out with him still feels like caring for him almost all the time, every now and again I get a tiny flash of feeling like we're just two people spending some time together.
And, like anyone you spend hours and hours and hours on end with nearly everyday, we have the occasional ups and downs. Usually I can attribute these moments to hunger (that could mean his or mine, but usually mine), being a few long minutes away from nap time or lunch time, or to when I'm attempting to multi-task (ineffectively, of course). Before I had a baby of my own, I thought the mother/child relationship was immune to the same issues that befall other types of relationships, but now I realize that's just not the case. My son has more leeway with me than anyone else in the entire world (even you, Chris Pratt, you perfect soul), but since neither of us is perfect, there are still moments of frustration on my end. And I would wager that I'm not alone in having all of these thoughts from time to time, especially during those frustrating times:
"If It Wasn't For Having A Kid, My Life Would Look..."
Originally, I had this idea drafted as "if it wasn't for my kid, my life would look..." but as you can see, I changed it. Because really, it's not his fault that life changed when I had him. And nor is it his fault that he's not able to care for himself yet, and that he takes up lots of time and energy. That's kinda the nature of parenthood, something I willingly signed up for. Still, despite the fact that I opted in, I sometimes find myself thinking about what would have been down the other path. And while that might have meant no 4 a.m. diapers, no random wake-ups, no baby-claw neck scratches while nursing, does it mean I would actually have chances to wear the high-heeled boots in my closet that still look new? Would I have more time to write? Would I be more inclined to enjoy colorful drinks made with the bottles of booze that have been sitting in our cupboard since before he was born? I'll never know. And honestly, I wouldn't really want to. But that doesn't stop be from casually wondering what a kid-free me would look like right now, and there's nothing wrong with that.
"I Wish My Kid Would..."
I wish he would stop crying. I wish he would go to sleep. I wish he would go back to sleep. I wish he would give me a hug every time I asked for one. I wish he would stop pulling my hair when I'm trying to snuggle with him. I wish his nose would stop running. I wish he would laugh like that all the time. I wish he would always reach for my hand. I wish he would always reach for me.
"I Wish My Kid Wouldn't..."
I wish he wouldn't throw his ketchup-covered plate when he was done eating. I wish he wouldn't get frustrated when we put him in his car seat. I wish he wouldn't cry for me when I'm working. I wish he wouldn't climb on the furniture and make my heart skip a beat. I wish he wouldn't try to sit on the dog and fall off. I wish he wouldn't get hurt. I wish he wouldn't feel any pain.
Like a bajillion others, I unfortunately have a fear — a phobia, an aversion; whatever you want to call it — to vomit. Just the thought of someone close to me needing to throw up is enough to turn my own stomach. A big concern I had before having a baby was whether or not I'd be able to effectively care for him when he got sick. Spoiler alert: I managed. It's not that throw-up, or dirty diapers, or someone else's slobbery food aren't gross, it's that the need to take care of him is stronger than my gag reflex.
"When Is My Child Going To...?"
When is he going to stop squirming when I change his diaper? When is he going to be ready for potty-training? When is he going to stop nursing? When is he going to stop napping? When is he going to stop knocking on the bathroom door? When is he going to stop crying out for me? When is he going to stop needing me? When is he going to stop being so damn adorable?
("Never" is, of course, the answer to those last two. And those are the only answers I really need to any of these questions.)
Images: Uptal Nath/Flickr; Giphy(5)